New project to help little heroes

A LIFE-CHANGING rehabilitation facility will help make dreams a reality for many Geelong children and families, with help from the community.

New project to help little heroes

The Barwon Health Foundation Kids Appeal will be raising funds for a brand new rehabilitation centre for Geelong children and youth. This exciting new project will only be possible with local support and will be fully funded by the community. 

The state-of-the-art centre will include a gym, consulting rooms, a therapy kitchen, playground and private treatment rooms. It is hoped this project will reach its goal of $3 million within three years, through generous community support. 

Click here to check out our video to see what difference the new centre will make to our kids.

About our new community project

The Victorian Paediatric Rehabilitation Service (VPRS) is a service just for young people in the Barwon South West Region. The focus of the service is on ‘kids leading kids’ lives’: going to school, being with friends and enjoying hobbies and sports.

Since 2009, clinicians and specialists at the VPRS have been working with children from infancy to late adolescence (0-18), including those with traumatic brain injuries, strokes, and spinal cord injuries. Others, such as those with cerebral palsy, have been involved in rehabilitation following medical treatments including surgery or Botox injection.

Treatments range from physical, speech and occupational therapy to social work and clinical psychology. Neuropsychologists also help with recovery from changes in thinking and behaviour.

In 2016, the VPRS saw 156 patients from the Geelong region and assisted 108 in the first half of 2017. Many of these children and youth have had an acquired brain injury (injuries to the brain from car accidents, falls, strokes and brain tumors).

It is estimated about 20,000 Australian children aged under 15 years have an acquired brain injury.

Others have had spinal cord injuries or had surgery to muscles, bones or tendons to allow more free movement.

These children are currently treated in the Community Rehabilitation Centre at the McKellar Centre, which has been designed for adults. However, children are not ‘little adults’ and local families need facilities designed just for them. To tailor programs to each child and family’s needs, Geelong needs a specific rehabilitation facility for children and youth.

The new centre will be designed just for children:

  • Children will have spaces and equipment that are the ideal size for them.
  • The spaces will be designed and decorated with their imaginations in mind.
  • The new centre’s atmosphere will help stimulate their creativity and engage them in rehabilitation.
  • The space will engage developing brains. Play will be disguised as therapy, engaging the minds of children and their families.
  • Spaces will developed with whole families in mind, including parents and siblings who play a key role in rehabilitation.
  • Staff will have the facilities and equipment to provide the highest quality care to kids of all ages with better outcomes for families.

The new centre will include:

  • A children’s gym with state-of-the-art equipment to help with walking, moving arms and hands and preparing kids for physical play at home, playgrounds and schools.
  • An innovative ‘communal kitchen’ will allow families to sit, relax, meet and chat. At the same time, children and youth can participate in therapeutic cooking activities. This can help with arm movement, thinking skills, problem solving, and physical function.
  • Quiet spaces for counselling, therapy and group programs will provide a warm, friendly and homely environment, allowing families who may be under great stress to feel safe and cared for.
  • Teleconference facilities will improve the capacity to provide direct support to families across the region, allowing for conferencing and input from Melbourne-based specialist clinicians.